In his own words, Springbok wing Sbu Nkosi describes his upbringing, schooling and what inspired him to reach the highest level of the game.
We all have an image in our minds of who we want to be.
Growing up in Barberton in Mpumalanga, I had a definite image in my own mind of who I wanted to be. I always wanted to become a Springbok. But I didn’t just want to be good enough, or better than the player next to me. I wanted to be the best I could be.
I’m a highly competitive person. So even at primary school in Barberton, I knew that being the fastest in my school and winning my races easily wasn’t going to be good enough for my long-term dream. If I was going to become the best I could be, I needed to be in an environment that would push me and challenge me, and bring out the best in me.
In my mind, that environment was a boys’ school. I felt that a boys’ school was the kind of competitive space I needed to be in to really see what I was capable of.
But there was no way my mother had the money to send me to a good boys’ school. Yet, I still had this image in my mind, and I wasn’t going to let it go.
So I focused on what was within my power. I realised I needed to up my game academically and with my sport if I hoped to try to get a scholarship to one of the top boys’ schools. And that’s what I did. I worked even harder and skipped a few holidays, or times hanging out with my friends.
It paid off when I was selected to represent the Pumas at the Grant Khomo Week, and that was when I was offered a scholarship to attend Jeppe High School for Boys in Johannesburg. That was a big lesson for me. It showed me that in life, there will be things you cannot control, but that you always have to do something about the things you can control.
I had no power over the finances in our family, but I did have power over my school work and sport. I focused on the two things I could control, and trusted that to be good enough.
So when I was 16 I moved from Barberton to Johannesburg to begin life as a Jeppe school boy. Jeppe was a big turning point for me because the school really gave me a great platform to express myself as a teenager in my sport and academics. It was a move I had to make to get better, because unfortunately that kind of opportunity just didn’t exist for me in Barberton.
I will admit, though, that when I was initially given the news about the scholarship I was excited but also nervous. I suddenly realised that I was entering an environment where I would be the small fish in a big pond. But the minute I moved there, I just loved being in that high-performance environment.
I’m also not somebody who likes to leave things unfinished, so I was determined to succeed. And I also had it in my heart that my mom worked hard to raise me, and I wanted her to have a comfortable life as well. I wanted her to see that this seed she planted in the ground would grow into a big tree.
It was the perfect move for me, because it aligned perfectly with the image I had in my mind.
And that would be my advice during these strange times we’re in when, as that Vodacom slogan says, ‘We can’t be close, but we can still be together’.
In those moments that are beyond your control, keep focusing on the image you have of yourself in your head. #StayConnected to your dreams. Then get busy working on the things you can control. Make sure that everything you’re doing on a daily basis aligns with that dream or that vision you have. Do whatever you can do to the best of your ability, and let the rest take care of itself.
And never ever forget that image in your mind of who you want to become.
Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix